5 things you could be allergic to over the festive season – Health24

As we’re heading into the festive season, you’re probably getting the house ready for the celebrations, writing up shopping lists and planning for guests – but bear in mind that some of them might suffer from allergies.

The human body is a wonderful thing, but sometimes our immune system goes into overdrive when something is not “quite right”. From seasonal respiratory allergies to food allergies, here are some triggers that you might need to look out for:

1. The Christmas tree (and all those decorations)

Sorry for being the Grinch, but if your artificial Christmas tree with baubles and tinsel is packed away for months, it can gather dust and mould – all triggers for respiratory allergies and asthma.

Do you prefer to use a real pine tree? While the tree itself might not necessarily cause allergies, its fragrance, pollen spores and possible mould might. According a study conducted in 2007, a Christmas tree in a room could increase the number of mould spores sixfold. A small sample of Christmas trees carried about 53 different strains of mould. According to Dr Kelly Rose from Allergy Partners, California, USA, this can cause all types of symptoms from an itchy, runny nose to coughing and sneezing.

What to do: Store artificial trees and decorations in a cool, dry place during the year and give them a good dusting outside before starting the decorating. If you’re using a real tree, shake and rinse it before bringing it into the house.

Dad and daughter decorating Christmas tree

2. All the different types of food

Where do we start? With so many different traditions, the culinary assortment is vast and there can be loads to choose from. Unfortunately, for those who suffer from food allergies, things may end up not being so festive as they never know exactly what they’re ingesting, especially at someone else’s house. Nuts, eggs, cow’s milk, shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame allergies are among the most common food allergies.

What to do: Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask your hosts what will be on the menu – you are not being fussy, you’re simply trying to avoid a potentially serious medical situation. Read the labels carefully when buying ready-made food and treats such as Christmas cake, mince pies, glazed ham and sweets as many of these contain common allergens. Make sure that your treatment is up to date and that you carry the necessary medicine or an epi-pen with you when visiting family or travelling.

If it’s your turn to host, be mindful of family members with food allergies. Ask beforehand and make sure that there are options for them. Also make sure their foods are not accidentally contaminated by any allergens.

Festive cookies

3. Your aunt’s cat (or dog)

Pet allergies are caused by their dander that can release dust and tiny bits of allergens into the air. These allergies are common and can cause watery, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing.

According a previous Health24 article, cat allergies are more common than dog allergies. The reason for this is a specific protein found in cat hair. Cat allergies are triggered by the overreaction of the immune system to a protein called FEL d 1.

And while your own pets might not trigger your allergies, someone else’s cat or dog could do so. 

What to do: Asking a relative to remove their pet from the scene might not be appreciated, so rather take your antihistamines well before the visit and wash your hands frequently, especially after handling any animals.

Hosts, be mindful of those with pet allergies by ensuring that rugs, carpets, couches and linen are cleaned properly. Make the guest room a pet-free zone if you have someone with allergies spending the night.

cat perching over table

4. Gifts

Never look a gift horse in the mouth but be careful of what you put in your mouth or on your skin if you don’t know the ingredients. From cosmetics and bath products, edible treats, soft toys and novelty items, the numbers of allergens are endless. Even wrapping paper or adhesive can cause an adverse reaction on the skin.

What to do: If you have a specific allergy and you receive a gift that might cause a flare-up (e.g. a scented candle, a bath product or chocolate-coated almonds), accept it politely but never use or eat anything without first checking the ingredients.

When you are buying gifts and you know someone has a skin allergy or hay fever, refrain from buying them cosmetics or fragranced products.

Man with unwanted gift

5. The sun (and everything that goes with it)

The festive season in the Southern Hemisphere is associated with long summer days around the pool or on the beach. But summer fun can turn into an uncomfortable nightmare if you have an allergic reaction to the sun – a very real condition. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity) can cause your immune system to react and cause an allergic reaction, often with symptoms such as an itchy, painful rash or even hives. Other factors such as sunscreen or chlorinated water can also cause a skin reaction.

What to do: Stay out of direct sunlight if you are prone to photosensitivity. If you are taking any form of antibiotic, check whether this can make you sensitive to the sun. Stick to a brand of sunscreen that you are familiar with and won’t cause an allergic skin reaction.

Family running on beach

Image credits: iStock

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Remembrances of Christmases past: Wild fowl, weeping willow and Junkanoo – Cayman Compass

Trees cut fresh from the beach and decorated with shells. The sweet aromas of turtle or wild fowl cooking in the kitchen caboose. The glow of heavy cakes baking on an open fire. The sights and sounds of a Cayman Christmas have changed dramatically over the decades. From fearsome Junkanoo masks to the gruesome spectacle of draining and butchering the cow for Christmas beef, some of the island’s favorite traditions are being kept alive this festive season.

Caymanians harbor many Christmas traditions that have persisted into the present day. One of them was not, however, a shortage of Christmas trees.

Long before Cayman Islands residents began importing exotic firs and pines, Caymanians had their own special wild trees to symbolize the yuletide season.

Finding and cutting your own “real” Christmas tree was a tradition everyone looked forward to in every household back in the day.

Sometimes it was a willow or casuarina tree, or a rosemary bush – decorated with red ladybug seeds, seashells, stringed popcorn, silver thatch ornaments, cloth dollies, painted sea shells, wooden toys, wild flowers or strips of colored cloth.

A few lit candles were placed on the window ledge to illuminate the tree and surrounding area.

A faint trail of smoke from a smoldering fire pan, lit near the doorway to keep the mosquitoes at bay, gave the tree a smoky look, almost like a light covering of snow.

Harvesting the Christmas tree involved work, trekking the beach and getting outside for some good old-fashioned seasonal fun.

It was always up to the children to scout out the best-looking tree, which could sometimes take hours and a lot of discussion.

Either the tree was too skinny, was too big to carry, did not have enough branches or was just too small, as everyone came up with their idea as to what the perfect Christmas tree should look like.

Dragging the tree back home through the sand often tore off many of the branches.

On the way home, empty paint cans were filled with white sand to plant the tree in and to decorate the yard.

Most families did not have much money and store-bought items were scarce. Come Christmas morning, a mix of presents wrapped in brown paper and adorned with colorful thatch string could be found under the tree, containing perhaps sets of playing Jacks, boxes of Cracker Jack with their surprise gifts, wooden trucks, stitched dollies, slates and pencils, flower sack dresses or khaki pants.

Caymanians enjoy a Christmas meal in earlier days.

No one was forgotten at the Christmas tree gathering. Children in the community would make a penny hauling a tree and a penny for each can of white sand delivered to a neighbor’s house.

My childhood friend Martin Bodden recalls hunting the perfect Christmas tree.

“A couple of days before Christmas, my parents would head to South Sound where some of the prettiest willow trees could be found,” he said.

“Most Caymanians will tell you, the best trees were always found around a cemetery. It was also the most feared place that most Caymanians, whether young or old, went to cut a tree.”

Begging his daddy not to cut the tree so close to a graveyard just fell on deaf ears.

He remembers his mother using a pan filled with white sand and rocks to keep the tree upright. It had to be watered each day, so it would keep fresh.

“I look back at those beautiful days with mixed emotions … thoughts of fearing the dead, old people, and how it used to be. Sadly, each year we use an artificial tree to decorate, it’s not the same. One day, I will go back to cutting the tree … that’s where the spirit of Christmas all began for me,” he said.

Christmas preparations

Bodden Town resident Neville McCoy, age 79, remembers the Christmas days of his childhood as being magical – it was “so quiet you could hear a pin drop,” he said.

Christmas preparations started with the “backing” of white sand in paint cans from the beach.

Junkanoo was used to scare people in a spirit of good fun while collecting money for the church.

The sand was collected during moonlit nights and sold around the community for a penny. Sometimes, the sand was carried to homes as far as Lower Valley in Bodden Town. Three trips a night for a week for a fee of sixpence, he said.

The men in the neighborhood would cut “grass fields” and get paid one cow when the job was done. The cow was divided among the men who participated, Mr. McCoy said.

The houses also had to be painted, new flour sack curtains hung on the windows, plantain leaf bedding restuffed with fresh dry leaves, firewood collected, new shag rugs made for the floor, and the oil lamps topped up with kerosene.

Paint could not be bought those days, so residents made their own from a mixture of “white lime,” sea coral and coloring powder to whitewash the house.

Yard cleaning and the spreading of white sand was also a big deal just before Christmas.

The piles of white sand had to be raked evenly over the ground at the front of the house and the walkway lined with fresh conch shells. No one dared to step on the sand after it was evenly raked, Mr. McCoy said.

The exciting part came just before Christmas Eve, when families would sweep the sand and make it smooth. For the children, playing in the freshly piled white sand Christmas morning was a treat.

To get children to bed, parents would tell them that, if they were not asleep, the mysterious entity named “Junkanoo” would come calling instead of Santa. But by the crack of dawn, everyone was awake and under the Christmas tree.

Traditional foods and music

Special foods and seasonal music were also a big part of the holiday celebrations, Mr. McCoy said.

As Christmas approached, families obtained whatever they could to prepare for the feast.

He said in those days there were no fridges, nor gas or electric stoves, but mostly fire huts.

This wall mural, painted by Joyce Hoff, at the Bodden Town Mission House shows what Bodden Town looked like in the 1800’s, featuring a wattle and daub house, a caboose, a white sand yard and conch shells.

Some people had wood stoves, and the men would cut firewood and put it by the roadside for sale. People would come from all parts of the island to buy the wood to use for fuel, for cooking or for burning to keep the mosquitoes away.

Getting nearer to Christmas, farmers would go to the plantation to harvest crops. Sweet potatoes, corn, cassava, yams, breadfruits, sorrel and watermelons were favorites for Christmas.

The air was flooded with sweet aromas from freshly baked cakes and breads, stew beef, rabbit, wild fowl, turtle or stew pork cooked in the outside kitchen caboose. Oddly, although eaten the rest of the year round, hardly any fish dishes were seen at a Christmas venue.

Several weeks before Christmas, Caymanians would bake the traditional “heavy cakes,” made from cassava, yam, sweet potato, pumpkin or breadfruit. Basically, any produce the men would bring from the land or from what the women grew around the house were used to create this dense and sticky sweet treat.

Everyone in town claimed their heavy cake was the best, even when there was no recipe to be had. Most bakers just said, “Add a dash of this” and “a pinch of that,” and “Everything will be just fine.”

Traditional heavy cakes are made by grating the root, adding flour, spices, sugar, salt and coconut milk and baking for hours over coals in a cast iron pot on a wood fire.

At almost every house in the community, you could see the glow from the outside fire where the heavy cakes were baking.

“Those who didn’t bake had no need to worry. Everyone around would bring over a piece at Christmastime,” Mr. McCoy said.

In West Bay, Chris Christian recalls his grandfather Andrew Powery digging a hole in the ground for grandma Ellen to bake her cassava heavy cake in a cast iron Dutch pot.

He said a hole was dug in the cliff rock, maybe 2 feet wide and one foot deep. Dried grape tree or logwood branches were added to the hole and burned into coals.

Phillip Sciamonte and children Malachi and Sari drag a Christmas tree from the beach. – Photo: Jewel Levy

While the fire was burning, grandma Ellen was in the “out kitchen” preparing the cassava mixture.

The pot was placed on the coals in the hole, more coals covered the pot sides and a sheet of zinc with coals was placed on the pot top. “That was the easy part,” Mr. Christian said.

“Granny spent several hours making sure the fire was a constant temperature by adding coals and taking time to baste the cake with a mixture of coconut milk and sugar.”

Basting was a necessary technique used for keeping the cassava cake moist while cooking in those days, Mr. Christian said.

“We just couldn’t wait for a piece, and hung around taking in the delightful aroma.”

Mr. Christian said his favorite part of the cake was the scraping from the pot bottom and the sugary sticky pieces left around the pot sides.

For him it seemed it took forever for the cake to cool, but once this was done, it was served with fresh boiled cow’s milk or sorrel.

Cows were butchered on Christmas Eve or a day before.

The men would kill the cow and hang it to drain, and butchering was carried out early in the morning under the grape trees on the beach. This was because shopkeeper Logan Bodden, who was the meat inspector in the Bodden Town community, had to inspect the meat before it went on sale.

“Mr. Logan didn’t know a horse from a cow, much less if it was good for consumption or not,” Mr. McCoy said with a laugh as he explained how as health inspector, Mr. Bodden had to be given a choice lot of meat as his fee.

“The saying was at the time, ‘Don’t touch a thing until Mr. Logan comes.’”

Santa makes a Christmas visit to Cayman in earlier days.

Before Mr. Bodden came to carry out the inspection, the men would cut meat from the cow’s neck, make up a fire under the sea grape trees and cook up a big pot of beef stew seasoned with shallots, bird peppers, and salt and pepper. This was eaten with either roast, boiled or steamed soft or waxed cassava, pumpkin, sweet potato or breadfruit. Bammy, a sticky flatbread made from peeled cassava grated, squeezed, pan fried and then soaked in beef stew gravy was also enjoyed by the older folks.

“My, what a treat that was … We had those elderly people who could prepare the beef so good it would make you lick your fingers. Beef was only had once a year and that was at Christmas, and everyone was anxious for a taste,” Mr. McCoy said.

The kids would hang stockings over the bed. Sometimes those stockings on Christmas morning would contain a gig [spinning top] if it was available, or a yo-yo, or sometimes, if the parents could afford it, a little toy gun, which looked like the “real McCoy” and gave off quite a bang when it was fired, he said.

After all the preparations for Christmas were completed, people started having fun by attending numerous quadrille “kitchen dances” around the community and visiting friends and family in other districts.

Caymanians would gather at neighbors’ homes and have kitchen dances with whatever homemade musical instruments they could find. Those days, it could be the fiddle, the flute (made from a papaya stalk punched with holes), homemade drums stretched tight with cow skin, pots, pans, maracas, graters and forks. “It sounded good too,” Mr. McCoy said.

Christmas caroling was also a part of the Christmas traditions. Jolly bands of churchgoers, dressed in knitted shawls and long frocks, went door-to-door spreading the spirit of Christmas through hymns such as “Deck the Halls,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” or “We Three Kings.”

Christmas morning

On Christmas morning, the most delicious breakfast awaited: freshly baked bread and Anchor butter, fried fish, Jamaican cocoa spiked with fresh cow’s milk and warm eggnog, and heavy cake. By midmorning, the women were drinking sorrel while eating spiced Christmas cake and preparing clothes for Christmas church.

The men prepared their fedora hats and jackets while savoring a spiked-up version of sorrel. Other men in the community gathered under the grape trees at the beach behind Miss Lorna Bodden’s shop to drink and retell old stories.

Ann Walton prepares the fire to bake a cassava cake. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Christmas Day was a holy day, said Mr. McCoy. There was no one on the streets after church. After Christmas service, families gathered at home to celebrate and enjoy the Christmas feasts everyone had been preparing leading up to the holiday.

The rest of the day was either spent visiting friends in other districts or quietly respecting the day.

The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, was nothing special – just another day for most residents. Only Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were celebrated, according to Mr. McCoy.

New Year’s Day Junkanoo

Early in the morning on New Year’s Day, Caymanians in Bodden Town celebrated Junkanoo as they prepared for the New Year’s Day Garden Party at the Manse.

“Few people are alive today who can tell us where this age-old tradition came from, but I can say it dates way back,” Mr. McCoy said.

The ladies in their bonnets or hats and long plaid dresses and the men in khaki and bowler hats made a charming panorama on the grass as they enjoyed the joyous occasion with old friends and family.

For the Junkanoo, a few men in the community, especially the men from Gun Square, would dress up in costumes made with whatever material was handy – bits and pieces of brightly colored fabric, cow’s skin, seaweed and sea fans, and other discarded items.

The ghastly Junkanoo face mask was made from a dried-out whitewashed cow’s head. Pieces of dried coconut bark were used for the hair and beard. An old straw hat tied with thatch string finished the get-up.

“We were really scared of the Junkanoos as they came riding down the street, especially when it was getting dark” Mr. McCoy said.

Blowing cow horns, banging on homemade cowskin drums and shaking tambourines, the Junkanoos would parade through the district collecting money for the church with a band of revelers in tow.

Those were made up of adults and children following the horse as they wove their way through the streets of the community on their way to the Webster Memorial United Church where the New Year’s Garden Party was being held.

Caymanians enjoy a Christmas meal in earlier days.

The garden party was an amazing event and one that was waited upon all year with great anticipation. It was exciting and great fun, especially for us children who looked forward to watching the ladies dance the Maypole.

A main draw was the town’s auctioneer selling off the most prized produce and fruits. For the occasion, everyone had saved the best of produce, craft or homemade food to be on display during auction time.

Some overzealous bidders often paid triple for what the produce was worth, because they knew all the proceeds would go to a good cause, the church fund.

The children also got to sample the delicious homemade peppermint and coconut candies and cakes.

The Junkanoo was the highlight of the whole holiday season, Mr. McCoy said. “If there were 10 cars on the island, all 10 of them would be in Bodden Town for the party on New Year’s Day,” he said.

A dance at the Town Hall, the lighting of lots of firecrackers, thunderbolts and cherry bombs wrapped in decorated Chinese paper, food and drinks ended the season’s festivities with a bang.

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The Best Hotels in the World: 2019 Gold List – Condé Nast Traveler

Remember when some places used to call themselves art hotels, for the sake of a few second-rate daubings on the walls? Well, this opened in 2013, a key player in Oslo’s waterside reboot, and has the sort of collection many urban galleries would kill for. There’s a genuflecting bronze by Antony Gormley outside by the revolving doors, a Julian Opie animation in the lift, and you’ll spot pieces by Warhol, Richard Prince, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Tony Cragg dotted around the public spaces. The Thief is the work of Petter Stordalen, who drives a biofuel-powered Ferrari and has banned bacon in his hotels for sustainability reasons. It straddles the water on the reclaimed islet of Tjuvholmen, a sheeny-shiny place of glinting bridges and new builds, many of which are home to small independent galleries—though the big-hitter is the neighboring Astrup Fearnley, from where much of the hotel’s artwork is borrowed. The spa and pool are accessed via a secret underground tunnel—locals come for the Sauna Gass experience, inspired by Dr Kneipp’s immune-system-boosting methods, with a dip in the icy Oslofjord followed by a sauna using essential oils. Rooms are clad in touchy-feely textures, golds, and grays, with picture windows to slide wide open for gulps of Nordic sea air from the harbor below. (Two of the biggest rooms were designed by Lee Broom and Peter Blake, riffing on Fifties and Sixties London—a cubist coffee table here, a geometric-patterned sofa there.) The rooftop restaurant was recently revamped, British chef David Taylor has fun with regional ingredients (scallops, turnips, monkfish, lamb neck) at the FoodBar restaurant, the bar has helped up Oslo’s cocktail game (try the Michael Jackson and Bubbles—rum, banana cordial, green tea, Champagne, in a ceramic monkey head). London-born Dominic Gorham is the personable go-to guy for guests, taking it to the stage to MC regular unplugged music sessions. It’s a 15-minute walk from the town center—this is a city for striding out, along the Aker Brygge waterfront, over the glacier-like Opera House and up for more sculptures in the hillside Ekeburg park. The Thief’s new art collection is set to land soon, along with a sister hotel in town. Oslo’s overflowing oil wealth meant this was a place that never bothered itself unduly with drawing visitors, but that’s changed and it now rocks a go-getting international outlook—this is the best place to feel you’re part of that.

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Vegan Linoleum 'Lino' Leather Soft and Durable Enough to Replace 'Rumen' Cow Hide – LIVEKINDLY

Designer Don Kwaning has created a material that mimics leather but is entirely vegan, architecture and design magazine Dezeen reports.

Called Lino Leather, as the name suggests, the material is made from linoleum, commonly used as flooring. Kwaning, who specializes in finding creative ways to use natural materials, teamed up with flooring manufacturer Forbo to generate new methods to treat linoleum to make it more versatile.

The Lino Leather comes in two forms. The first type, which is thicker than the other, is similar to rumen leather, usually made from a cow’s stomach. Kwaning has used this material, which has folds and a honeycomb structure, for wall panelling that has acoustic dampening properties, Dezeen reports.

The second Lino Leather kind is softer, closely replicating saddle leather, and could be used widely in commercial settings.

The materials are double-sided, unlike linoleum flooring. To do this, Kwaning placed the textile backing that is usually needed to stabilize linoleum in between two layers of his vegan leather. He believes it could be used in furniture design and upholstery.

According to Kwaning, linoleum, which has existed for more than 100 years, is an “overlooked material” with “great future potential.” 

“Many people don’t even know it’s made from only natural materials,” he added.

Linoleum is made from plant-based oils and resins combined with minerals or fine powders, like ground cork. It is then placed onto a textile backing, like canvas, and tinted various colours.

“I took out all the pigments to give the material more depth, which also gives the Linoleum Leather a more natural look since the materials that it is made from show in the colour,” Kwaning told Dezeen. “The colours that you see are the colours of the wood-flour which is one of the Linoleum Leather components.”

“I like projects that aim to change the industry by introducing new ecological substitutes for existing materials that are toxic or harm animals,” Kwaning said. He has also used wetland weed to make furniture and packing.

Kwaning joins other innovators using vegan materials to craft cruelty-free leather. Hugo Boss uses pineapple to make leather men’s shoes, coconut water has been used to make leather-style handbags, and rugs made from palm leaves could replace cow-hide leather carpeting. German sneaker brand nat-2 uses coffee grounds to make leather shoes – they even smell like coffee.

The vegan leather industry is only becoming more popular, with the market set to be worth $85 billion by 2025.


Image Credit: Don Kwaning | Dezeen

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Vegan Linoleum ‘Lino’ Leather Soft and Durable Enough to Replace 'Rumen' Cow Hide

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Vegan Linoleum ‘Lino’ Leather Soft and Durable Enough to Replace 'Rumen' Cow Hide

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Designer Don Kwaning created Lino Leather, made from linoleum, as a cruelty-free, vegan alternative to rumen leather, made from the stomach of a cow.

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Jemima Webber

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LIVEKINDLY

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Rug Report: Creature(-free) comforts are popular – Home Accents Today

Creature DomadaDomada’s cowhide rug

Without sacrificing good taste, area rugs are joining the list of vegan goods.

No animal products or byproducts used here.

“We’re capitalizing on cow-friendly hides,” said Blake Dennard, senior vice president of Kaleen Rugs. “Our new Chaps Collection answers to the growing population on the vegan side.”

Chaps, which Kaleen launched at the October High Point Market, is a collection of replica cowhides handmade in India of viscose and wool.

“No cowhides were used in the making of this product,” the company emphasized.

The same is true for Kas Rugs’ new indoor-outdoor selection of animal-inspired rugs. The Provo

Creature Capel SafariCapel Rugs Safari Leopard

Collection encompasses textured machine-woven rugs made of UV-treated polypropylene in a variety of spotted skin patterns.

“Our new Provo Collection has some animal inspiration behind it,” said Brianne Coradini, Kas Rugs’ marketing associate. “Faux animal designs are still a hot trend that is not going away. We [weren’t] offering any animal patterned outdoor rugs, so Provo [now] rounds out our assortment perfectly.”

Capel Rugs’ Luxe Shag collection of animal looks presents “a new take on shags” with its longer acrylic/polyester fibers. Plus, they “can even be cut into a pelt shape,” according to Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing.

The company has several other species of animal-friendly rugs, like the machine-made Leopard that is based on a textile design by Kevin O’Brien, a licensee of Capel Rugs for the past eight years.

Animal prints, O’Brien said, “connect with us on several levels. Even though they have a practical purpose for the animal, they are naturally elegant and by definition perfect.”

He continued: “In our DNA, there is a connection to the wild origins of our own species and the wildness still very much present in these animals. We revere the primal nature of these beautiful animals and know that we are not really that far removed from them.”

For her latest introduction with Loloi Rugs, designer Justina Blakeney of “Jungalow” fame dreamed up a contemporary faux-tiger series in both native and exotic colorways. Ironically named Feroz, which means fierce in Spanish, this tame version of animal skin is hand-loomed by artisans in India and then feline formed.

Creature loloi verticalFeroz by Justina Blakeney x Loloi

Blakeney said the idea for Feroz came from an antique Tibetan prayer rug found at a flea market.

“I researched the history of these prayer rugs and learned that they tell a rich story of Tibetan culture and are full of Buddhist symbolism. They are traditionally on the smaller side and can be prohibitively expensive,” she said. “I wanted to put my own spin on them while paying homage to their Tibetan roots. My reinterpretation is a larger scale rug made of 100% wool and is a fanciful depiction of a tiger — an animal I love.”

Domada is a newcomer to the upscale rug industry, paving its path with a niche business: cowhide-shaped vintage rugs.

Launched earlier this year as an e-commerce business and now expanding into wholesale, Domada sources its products from Morocco, India and Turkey, with more countries currently being explored. Most of its rugs average about 70 years old and feature a range of classic and traditional Oriental designs, and many are one-of-a-kind.

“I want my pieces to be unusual. I look through thousands and thousands of rugs looking for special pieces,” founder Katherine Stevens said. “Hides bring an organic sense to spaces, but many responsive to this aesthetic shy away from them out of respect for the natural world,” Stevens said. “Conscious consumers are driving design away from doing harm, and our fusion of traditional, ethnic rugs with hide and skin shapes speaks perfectly to this market. Domada is proud to offer its cruelty-free collection. I love that we can make something special that feels organic but doesn’t harm any animals.”

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Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways – See It Now – Lonny Magazine

Photographed by Maria del Rio.

Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.

In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.

A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.

The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Becky Kimball.

Eclectic

A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. “Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY.”

Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.

Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Ball & Albanese.

Beach House

Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.

According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

Traditional

How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.

The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.

In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo.

Minimalist Meets Scandinavian

For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom’s bone cowhide rug anchors this space.

“We wanted it to feel like the best parts of Venice — easy, livable, and casual,” designer Leanne Ford says of the California home she outfitted for fashion designer Amber Farr, founder of Ruby Skye.

All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm,” she shares. “The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Winnie Au.

Modern

It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial  pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.

Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of girly accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.

One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.

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5 Ways To Use Cowhide Rugs — No Matter Your Decor Style – Lonny Magazine

Photographed by Maria del Rio.

Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.

In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.

A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.

The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Becky Kimball.

Eclectic

A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. “Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY.”

Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.

Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Ball & Albanese.

Beach House

Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.

According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

Traditional

How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.

The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.

In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo.

Minimalist Meets Scandinavian

For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom’s bone cowhide rug anchors this space.

“We wanted it to feel like the best parts of Venice — easy, livable, and casual,” designer Leanne Ford says of the California home she outfitted for fashion designer Amber Farr, founder of Ruby Skye.

All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm,” she shares. “The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Winnie Au.

Modern

It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial  pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.

Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of girly accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.

One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.

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Rug Report: Creature(-free) comforts are popular – Home Accents Today (press release) (blog)

Creature DomadaDomada’s cowhide rug

Without sacrificing good taste, area rugs are joining the list of vegan goods.

No animal products or byproducts used here.

“We’re capitalizing on cow-friendly hides,” said Blake Dennard, senior vice president of Kaleen Rugs. “Our new Chaps Collection answers to the growing population on the vegan side.”

Chaps, which Kaleen launched at the October High Point Market, is a collection of replica cowhides handmade in India of viscose and wool.

“No cowhides were used in the making of this product,” the company emphasized.

The same is true for Kas Rugs’ new indoor-outdoor selection of animal-inspired rugs. The Provo

Creature Capel SafariCapel Rugs Safari Leopard

Collection encompasses textured machine-woven rugs made of UV-treated polypropylene in a variety of spotted skin patterns.

“Our new Provo Collection has some animal inspiration behind it,” said Brianne Coradini, Kas Rugs’ marketing associate. “Faux animal designs are still a hot trend that is not going away. We [weren’t] offering any animal patterned outdoor rugs, so Provo [now] rounds out our assortment perfectly.”

Capel Rugs’ Luxe Shag collection of animal looks presents “a new take on shags” with its longer acrylic/polyester fibers. Plus, they “can even be cut into a pelt shape,” according to Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing.

The company has several other species of animal-friendly rugs, like the machine-made Leopard that is based on a textile design by Kevin O’Brien, a licensee of Capel Rugs for the past eight years.

Animal prints, O’Brien said, “connect with us on several levels. Even though they have a practical purpose for the animal, they are naturally elegant and by definition perfect.”

He continued: “In our DNA, there is a connection to the wild origins of our own species and the wildness still very much present in these animals. We revere the primal nature of these beautiful animals and know that we are not really that far removed from them.”

For her latest introduction with Loloi Rugs, designer Justina Blakeney of “Jungalow” fame dreamed up a contemporary faux-tiger series in both native and exotic colorways. Ironically named Feroz, which means fierce in Spanish, this tame version of animal skin is hand-loomed by artisans in India and then feline formed.

Creature loloi verticalFeroz by Justina Blakeney x Loloi

Blakeney said the idea for Feroz came from an antique Tibetan prayer rug found at a flea market.

“I researched the history of these prayer rugs and learned that they tell a rich story of Tibetan culture and are full of Buddhist symbolism. They are traditionally on the smaller side and can be prohibitively expensive,” she said. “I wanted to put my own spin on them while paying homage to their Tibetan roots. My reinterpretation is a larger scale rug made of 100% wool and is a fanciful depiction of a tiger — an animal I love.”

Domada is a newcomer to the upscale rug industry, paving its path with a niche business: cowhide-shaped vintage rugs.

Launched earlier this year as an e-commerce business and now expanding into wholesale, Domada sources its products from Morocco, India and Turkey, with more countries currently being explored. Most of its rugs average about 70 years old and feature a range of classic and traditional Oriental designs, and many are one-of-a-kind.

“I want my pieces to be unusual. I look through thousands and thousands of rugs looking for special pieces,” founder Katherine Stevens said. “Hides bring an organic sense to spaces, but many responsive to this aesthetic shy away from them out of respect for the natural world,” Stevens said. “Conscious consumers are driving design away from doing harm, and our fusion of traditional, ethnic rugs with hide and skin shapes speaks perfectly to this market. Domada is proud to offer its cruelty-free collection. I love that we can make something special that feels organic but doesn’t harm any animals.”

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Palm leather rugs are vegan alternative to cow hide – Dezeen

Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven’s rugs made from a palm leaf material, called palm leather, are a sustainable and vegan alternative to traditional leather made from animal skin.


For the range of rugs, thin strips of the material are laid end to end by hand and attached to a woven base, before being cut to size. Any inconsistencies or folds in the strips are left to give a patterned appearance to the finished rug.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

Dutch designer Veenhoven first started experimenting with leather made from palm leaves eight years ago after he became interested in the natural fibres of the tree’s leaves, and asked someone he knew in India to send him some so that he could research them.

“In my material research I found out that the material was super brittle and not very useful, but if you soften it with a special material of glycerin and water, and some other materials you can make it nice and soft,” explained Veenhoven.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

The designer and his studio then developed and refined the “leather” further, testing it out by making products with various companies. Initially he experimented with making the rugs in Holland, before testing out production at a factory in India.

The rugs are now made at a factory in the Dominican Republic where “they’re experienced with green initiatives, so they have the necessary quality controls in place,” and shipped directly to consumers.

As well as the rugs, the studio is hoping to sell the palm leather material as a product in its own right. There has been a lot of recent interest from the “extremely demanding” automotive companies who have recently become increasingly interested in vegan alternatives to leather car interiors.

Veenhoven explained that how palm leather has been perceived has changed over the years, from an initial interest in its potential use as an alternative to man-made leather substitutes, to the current spike in interest as a vegan material.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

“It first was seen much more as a potential replacement of leather-like materials, or neoprenes or plastics – that was the first hook for people,” he told Dezeen.

“Then it was a little bit connected to re-inventing craft, which has also been a topic of discussion, how can we make craftsmen more contemporary, and interestingly in the last two years it’s been about it being vegan,” he explained.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

The move towards eating vegan and buying vegan products for the home, Veenhoven suggests, has been pushed by real problems that the world faces including the need to reduce the amount of meat that we eat.

“We have to focus more on plant-based systems and we have to encourage them more because they are essential to our livelihoods,” said Veenhoven, who experiments with many alternative materials and systems at his studio in Groningen, northern Holland.

These views echo Nicolas Roope who told Dezeen that avoiding global disaster will be the greatest design challenge in history, in response to the recent UN report on climate change.

Back in 2016, the Campana brothers Fernando and Humberto, covered a house in Sao Paolo with palm fibre that gave it a hairy texture. Last year, graduate Billie van Katwijk made an alternative leather from cows’ stomachs, rather than their hides.

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The lion bought in Harrods who prowled the Kings Road in an open-top Bentley: Story of London's unlikeliest pet … – Daily Mail

The lion bought in Harrods who prowled the Kings Road in an open-top Bentley: Story of London’s unlikeliest pet revealed in stunning pictures that chronicle life of cub purchased in 1969 when department store sold host of exotic beasts

John Rendall For The Daily Mail

Almost half a century ago, John Rendall and Ace Bourke bought a lion cub at Harrods, named him Christian and raised him on London’s King’s Road, before returning him to the African wild.

A new book illustrated with stunning photographs taken by Derek Cattani, one of Christian’s ‘human pride’, retells the moving story of London’s unlikeliest pet, his new life in Africa and the heart-warming reunion between man and lion that has become one of the world’s most watched and loved videos.

Though he was just a tiny cub, there was something about the self-assured expression in his eyes that made him irresistible. It implied a strength of character that belied his cuddly teddy bear appearance.

As we gazed at him in his small cage, I blurted the words that would change my life for ever. ‘Why don’t we buy him?’ I said to my mate Ace Bourke.

Christian the lion having lunch with model Emma Breeze and friends at the Casserole restaurant on King's Road, London. the lion cub was bought in Harrods’ pet department  in November 1969

Christian the lion having lunch with model Emma Breeze and friends at the Casserole restaurant on King's Road, London. the lion cub was bought in Harrods’ pet department  in November 1969

Christian the lion having lunch with model Emma Breeze and friends at the Casserole restaurant on King’s Road, London. the lion cub was bought in Harrods’ pet department in November 1969

‘I’ve already named him,’ replied Ace, nodding in agreement. ‘He’s called Christian.’

Our visit to Harrods’ pet department that fateful day in November 1969 had been prompted by simple curiosity.

As two young Australians newly arrived in the UK, we’d heard crazy tales about a London store where you could buy not just the usual clothes and household goods, but tapirs, snakes, monkeys and even pumas and lions as well.

It sounded incredible, but when I saw the beautiful lion cub for sale that day — alert, trusting and magnificent — I was smitten. 

(These were the days before the Endangered Species Act of 1976, when it was legal for exotic creatures to be sold to the public.)

And so began our wonderful, rollercoaster life with Christian.

Day after day, after the Christmas shoppers had gone home, we’d turn up at Harrods to play with our new pet as we tried to convince his keepers that we’d be suitable owners.

Already weighing 2st, he was more than a handful as he leapt around and wrestled with us — an enchanting ball of energy with razor-sharp teeth.

Anthony Bourke and John Rendall take Christian for s spin in their convertible  on the King's Road. The pair would take the lion in a ride in the car to the churchyard to get exercise and to play

Anthony Bourke and John Rendall take Christian for s spin in their convertible  on the King's Road. The pair would take the lion in a ride in the car to the churchyard to get exercise and to play

Anthony Bourke and John Rendall take Christian for s spin in their convertible on the King’s Road. The pair would take the lion in a ride in the car to the churchyard to get exercise and to play

Patiently, the staff answered our excited but naïve questions before asking their own: where, exactly, did we think an energetic three-month-old lion cub might actually live?

It was a problem. But, as luck would have it, I’d newly started a job in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, on the King’s Road, whose owner had grown up in Africa. How might he feel about having a lion on the premises?

It was an outrageous request, but I didn’t have any better ideas. Surely, I argued, a lion was the ultimate ‘sophistocat’ — the perfect mascot?

There was a huge basement which Christian could have to himself, and we’d be on hand to look after him, as Ace and I were living in the flat above the store. 

Amazingly, the owner enthusiastically agreed. To our delight, the Harrods staff approved; we would collect Christian in three weeks’ time.

A few days later, we had a call. ‘Can you collect Christian tomorrow?’ It transpired that our new acquisition had escaped the night before and all but destroyed a display of goat-skin rugs in the carpet department, whose manager was less than pleased. What had we let ourselves in for?

It was a thrilling time to be in London. Among Sophisto-Cat’s close neighbours were Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, whose boutique later became the birthplace of the punk movement, and opposite was ultra-fashionable clothes store Granny Takes A Trip, where The Beatles, Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix were customers. 

Pampered: Christian gets a blow dry. The lion lived in a huge basement in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, which Christian had to himself

Pampered: Christian gets a blow dry. The lion lived in a huge basement in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, which Christian had to himself

Pampered: Christian gets a blow dry. The lion lived in a huge basement in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, which Christian had to himself

Perhaps it wasn’t totally outrageous that a lion should be living among such a bohemian set.

Christian’s new home was everything we had hoped for: airy, with plenty of natural light and lots of space for a little cub to race around in, often dragging his favourite plastic pig.

With bedding, bones, toys and a large litter tray which he used assiduously after only a few days of encouragement, it was the perfect lion’s den.

Harrods supplied a detailed diet sheet: a liquid meal with raw egg and vitamins for breakfast, then raw meat — usually chopped beef or rabbit — for lunch and supper, and, as a special treat, a delicious marrow-filled bone at night.

Local restaurants and butchers offered steaks that were past their sell-by date, and cut-price meat.

Exercise soon became a concern. But where could we take him? The problem was solved by the vicar of the nearby church, who agreed to let us use its grounds just a few hundred yards from the shop. 

This sanctuary made an ideal playground, with a high entrance gate and brick walls. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs and — if we allowed him — us. We never received a complaint.

Friends would often come to join in. If Christian ever became too rough, we would just stand still and stop the game, and he quickly got the message.

Fleet Street photographer Derek Cattani became a regular visitor, and documented Christian’s Chelsea life.

We soon settled into a regular routine. The shop opened at 10am. By then Christian had been fed, enjoyed a ride in the car to the churchyard and returned home for a nap, leaving us to get on with running the shop.

At lunchtime he would be wide awake again and ready for his first meat meal. Then it was playtime in the den with anybody who was free to spend time with him. By the end of the afternoon Christian was ready for tea.

Christian attracts young admirers as he heads out in the Bentley. Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop

Christian attracts young admirers as he heads out in the Bentley. Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop

Christian attracts young admirers as he heads out in the Bentley. Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop

He would then come up into the shop and wander happily around, often opting to sit on a table or chest of drawers in the window where he had a good view.

Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop.

We were bombarded with requests to hire him for parties, premieres, publicity shots. To most of these we said no, though we did agree to a photoshoot with Vanity Fair, and one with racing driver James Hunt.

It was an invitation to appear on Blue Peter that brought an end to Christian’s career as a model. During a rehearsal, he behaved impeccably but by the time of the live appearance, he was bored.

Instead of a nice calm chat on the sofa with Valerie Singleton, the whole thing turned into a wrestling match as we tried to stop Christian from running off.

Ace and I decided such events were too stressful for him. He was not comfortable away from Sophisto-Cat or his churchyard. Christian was also now a year old and growing rapidly. Heartbreakingly, he would need a new home.

We began considering Longleat Safari Park. This was where some of the lions used in the hit movie Born Free — which told the story of how conservationists George and Joy Adamson had reintroduced Elsa, a hand-reared cub, into the wild in Africa — had been relocated.

Then a totally unexpected alternative arose. Actors Bill Travers and his wife Virginia McKenna, who had played George and Joy Adamson in the film, were visiting Virginia’s dressmaker, a neighbour of ours in Chelsea.

Christian tackles John during a game of football in the Moravian Close. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs 

Christian tackles John during a game of football in the Moravian Close. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs 

Christian tackles John during a game of football in the Moravian Close. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs 

They came to meet Christian, and asked what we were planning to do with him. We admitted we were still searching for the best solution.

A few days later, Bill rang with an idea. He had contacted George Adamson in Kenya to ask whether he would consider rehabilitating Christian there. The great lion guru had provisionally agreed.

It was a wonderful opportunity, but a challenge too. Take a fifth-generation captivity-bred lion, born in a zoo in Devon and then sold to us in a department store, to Africa? Could he adapt? And if he did, would he survive?

On August 12, 1970, Christian marked his first and last birthday in England. Two weeks later, with photographer Derek Cattani who had come to document the first stage of Christian’s rehabilitation, we touched down in Nairobi, on African soil. His ancestral homeland.

George Adamson was there to meet us. This was the man in whose hands Christian’s destiny now lay.

Together we set off in George’s jeep for the Kora reserve 250 miles away — Christian’s new home. When we stopped en route at a camp and took Christian for his first walk in Africa, an event of overwhelming significance occurred.

Christian spotted a lost cow in the bush and immediately crouched and froze. We watched as Christian stalked his prey — creeping slowly forward and using the low bushes to conceal himself. George was worried, though: the beast’s substantial horns could be lethal. 

We tried to grab Christian and, for the first time ever, he snarled at us. The episode shook us, but George was hugely impressed at his stalking instincts.

That night in camp Christian was wonderfully affectionate. Perhaps it was the excitement of his first stalking, or perhaps he was trying to make up for his earlier aggression. Either way, he dozed off with his head on a pillow and his paw on my face.

But we had learned what we most needed to know: our young lion was wild at heart. Everything would be all right.

In the summer of 1971, a year after Christian had become a wild animal, Ace and I returned to Kora to see George and, we hoped, glimpse our beloved lion.

When we called George from Nairobi he told us not to get our hopes up. Christian was now the head of a small pride — three females and a young male. George hadn’t seen them for weeks.

But when he met us at Kora he was grinning. 

‘The lions turned up this morning,’ he said. ‘Christian must have known you were coming.’

At his camp, George identified a spot for a reunion. He told us he would lead the lions to the brow of a rock, from where they could see me, Ace and a cameraman friend, Simon Trevor, who had been making a film about our story. After that, nobody knew what might happen.

As Christian crested the brow he stopped and stared at us. After a few minutes, he walked slowly down towards us, staring the whole time. He looked superb: taller, leaner and less thickly coated, but strong and confident.

His body language was self-assured as he approached. 

‘Call him,’ George said, unable to wait any longer.

And that did it: the moment he heard our voices Christian began to run down the rocky hillside, grunting with excitement. 

A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time.

Wild at heart: A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time

Wild at heart: A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time

Wild at heart: A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time

Today I look at the photos of that meeting and realise how overwhelmed I was by the powerful emotion. At that moment, the gulf between humans and lions had been blurred by sheer euphoria.

But that was not the end of the story. In 2006, the film of our reunion was spotted by an English actor named Marc Bolton, who was inspired to add a written narrative and a soundtrack using the Whitney Houston song I Will Always Love You.

Today there have been a staggering 100 million YouTube viewings of that brief clip, with interest showing no signs of abating. Christian is one of the most famous lions there has ever been.

It’s 45 years since, in 1973, Christian disappeared into the wild for ever, but some time later George heard him mating and was confident that he had established his own pride. 

Philip Mason, manager of a safari lodge near the Adamsons’ camp, often sees big-maned individuals that strongly resemble Christian. Could these be his descendants? Philip thinks so.

When Ace and I took Christian to Kenya in 1970, there were 400,000 lions in Africa. Today there are fewer than 20,000.

As the threat to Africa’s lions increases, we have much to be grateful to Christian for. 

The video gains him ever more fans and I pray it will continue to help raise awareness among new viewers, and the fight to save Christian’s descendants will gain momentum.

There could be no better legacy from a remarkable animal who continues to hold a unique place in our hearts.

Adapted from Christian The Lion: The Illustrated Legacy by John Rendall and Derek Cattani (Bradt, £14.99). © John Rendall & Derek Cattani 2018. 

To order a copy for £11.99 (offer valid to November 15, 2018, p&p free on orders over £15), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. To donate to the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust visit georgeadamson.org/donate

 

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